Rate survey: Average card APR remains at 15.18 percent

Interest rates on new credit cards held steady this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

For the fourth consecutive week, the national average annual percentage rate (APR) stayed put at 15.18 percent.

Most cards tracked by CreditCards.com left interest rates unchanged. The sporting goods store Cabela’s increased the APR on the Cabela’s Club Visa card by 0.01 percent. But the change was too small to affect the national average.

Huntington Bank also added a higher maximum rate to the Huntington Bank Voice Rewards credit card. Applicants are now offered a range of APRs starting at 13.24 percent and maxing out at 26.24 percent – up from a previous maximum APR of 24.24 percent. But the change didn’t affect the national average as CreditCards.com considers only a card’s lowest available interest rate when calculating average rates.

Credit card APR ranges keep getting wider
As they begin offering more cards to a wider group of cardholders, many card issuers are tacking on higher maximum APRs to their general purpose cards. As a result, the number of cards offering APR ranges as high as 6 percentage points or more has substantially increased.

Among the 100 cards CreditCards.com tracks, the average APR range – the number of points between the card’s lowest available interest rate and its highest maximum rate – is currently 6.6 percentage points.

Meanwhile, the number of cards that advertise an APR range spread of at least 6 to 9 percentage points has jumped to 31 cards in 2016 – up from just 16 cards in 2013.

Offering ranges has become a standard practice among the largest card issuers, such as Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Capital One and American Express. The vast majority of their general-purpose cards advertise a range of potential APRs rather than one flat rate.

Some issuers are offering even wider APR ranges. The number of cards advertising an APR range of at least 10 percentage points or more has increased to 33 cards in the CreditCards.com database – up from 31 cards three years ago. In 2012, only 20 cards advertised APR ranges as wide as 10 percentage points or more.

Fifteen cards tracked by CreditCards.com limit APR ranges to 4 to 6 percentage points – up from 13 cards in 2013. Only 21 cards in the CreditCards.com database – less than a quarter of all cards tracked by CreditCards.com – advertise a single APR for every applicant.

The USAA Cash Rewards American Express card, for example, offers a range from 10.15 to 26.15 percent – a difference of more than 16 percentage points. Eight cards advertise APR ranges between 11 and 12 points wide. Four cards advertise ranges as wide as 13 to 16 percentage points.

The wider APR ranges allow card issuers to offer the same card to a larger group of applicants, including those with lower credit scores. But the wide ranges also make it harder for applicants searching for credit cards to intelligently compare offers. With exceptionally wide ranges on card offers, it is impossible for card applicants to know whether they’ll get a card with a great rate or a terrible one.

CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report
  Avg. APR Last week 6 months ago
National average 15.18% 15.18%
Low interest 11.98%
11.98% 11.84%
Cash back 15.32%
Balance transfer 14.38%
Business 13.12%
Student 13.42%
Airline 15.08%
Reward  15.29%
Instant approval 18.04%
Bad credit 22.56%
Methodology: The national average credit card APR is comprised of 100 of the most popular credit cards in the country, including cards from dozens of leading U.S. issuers and representing every card category listed above. (Introductory, or teaser, rates are not included in the calculation.)
Source: CreditCards.com
Updated: July 6, 2016

See related: How a card's introductory APR works, Maximum fee rises to $38 for repeat late fees

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Updated: 02-21-2019